Dovizioso not another Rossi, can fight for 2022 MotoGP title on RNF Yamaha

RNF Racing boss Razlan Razali accepts Valentino Rossi's final MotoGP season didn't meet hopes but he expects Andrea Dovizioso to be a front runner in 2022

Andrea Dovizioso, Valentino Rossi

RNF Racing team manager Razlan Razali is fully confident Andrea Dovizioso can challenge for the 2022 MotoGP World Championship on his return to the premier class, adding he doesn’t expect the veteran rider to flounder like his predecessor Valentino Rossi.

RNF Racing has emerged from the remnants of the Petronas SRT Yamaha outfit, which was reorganised and downsized after the primary title backing Malaysian oil giants withdrew sponsorship for the 2022 season.

The new name and look is reflected in a bold new rider line-up with combines triple MotoGP runner-up Dovizioso - who returns to the series after sitting out most of the 2021 season in the wake of his split with Ducati - with Darryn Binder, who has courted attention for his sizeable jump from Moto3.

RNF comes into 2022 looking to banish memories of a tough 2021 campaign, which yielded only a single podium for Franco Morbidelli in the half-season he contested before injury and a Yamaha Factory promotion limited his track time, while Rossi struggled to make an impression in what would become his final season in the sport.

Indeed, having been reluctant to take Rossi on after he was swapped out for eventual 2021 MotoGP World Champion Fabio Quartararo, Razali admits the Italian legend didn’t produce the results he’d anticipated.

"What happened last year with the team happened, but it was a pleasure to be working with Valentino," Razali told our sister publication, "In terms of generating value it was great and it was an honour that the last team he raced with was us.

"From our side, we learned a lot having him in the team. How to manage a guy like him. He also gave us a mindset of the important things to focus on. The things that are nice to have versus what you really need. I think that's important.

“Results wise, we never thought it was going to be like that, I don’t think he thought he was going to perform like that. But it happens! We just have to reminisce over it as having been a good fun thing to work with him. Now we start fresh with a new book."

Can Andrea Dovizioso fight for 2022 MotoGP title?

Razali is at pains to insist Dovizioso, who at 35 is the oldest rider on the grid by three years, is at the top of his game despite his hiatus and a most return during the final five rounds on a two-year old Yamaha M1.

"Of course, some fans or sceptics will compare and say it could be another season like Valentino," Razali said of Dovizioso. "But people forget that we got Valentino when he was 42. Dovi is 35. If you look at where Valentino was when he was 35, he was still at the peak. So I think it's a totally different comparison.

"It's a valid one because he is now the oldest guy on the grid, slightly older than Aleix [32]. But Dovi's done a lot in his days at Ducati. Three times vice-champion. He was with Tech3 on the Yamaha before. And most importantly he had the five races last year.

"Yes, it was on a two-year-old bike, but I think it gives him the feel and the competitiveness is back. He was not pushing, but now with the same package as the factory guys I think he could be one of the riders that can fight for the championship."